Page 7 - Baltimore Fishbowl - 2017 School Guide
P. 7

Teach Your Teachers Well
Baltimore’s best schools are ramping up their teaching fellowships with an eye toward beating the academic competition and likewise breeding top-notch teachers.
By Betsy Boyd
In 2014, Bryn Mawr teaching fellow Jackie Burr was shadowing the school’s pre-first grade instructor Meghann McMahon when she absorbed a vital lesson that she now applies to her full-time fifth grade instruction at Bryn Mawr.
“Meghann would give the kids a question or a problem and say, ‘Talk about this! Why do you think this animal would have lived in trees as opposed to on the ground?’” Burr says. “Textbooks don’t stress enough students bouncing ideas off each other and using each other as a source of information. Now I use this exercise with my 11- or 12-year-olds. It’s a good exercise for adults as well.”
Burr, now 29, was the inaugural Wilgis Teaching Fellow at Bryn Mawr from 2014 to 2015, and just completed her second year teaching at the school. Just before becoming involved at Bryn Mawr, she earned a master’s degree in elementary education.
“It’s a no-brainer for me—in an ideal world, every school would have this fellowship model,” Burr, who also coaches varsity volleyball at Bryn Mawr, explains. “It gives you an opportunity to watch and mirror and imitate and practice what the pros are doing. From an athlete’s perspective, you’re always looking for pros to learn from.”
Many of Baltimore’s independent schools incorporate fellows or interns into their teaching faculty and their varied athletic coaching rosters. It’s a win-win for the
well-endowed institutions that can sustain small salaries for the young instructors-to-be and for the typically inexperienced fellows who gain valuable classroom experience to add to their resumes, and on occasion snag an offer of full-time employment.
Maybe you’ve heard of the coveted Tickner Fellowship, which annually brings an award-winning young creative writer to Gilman’s campus to write and teach and to co- advise its lit journal, Paragon—celebrated novelist and short-story writer Laura van den Berg held the Tickner, as did fiction writer John Rowell, who is now a regular Gilman English faculty member and the school’s spring musical director.
“Before I left New York, I taught some live and online classes for Mediabistro in fiction writing, which was great but all-adults, of course, so I had no experience teaching teenagers or high school before I started at Gilman,” Rowell says. “It’s a great fellowship, and we’ve had wonderful writers all through the years.”
Next year, the Tickner converts from a one-year to a two- year contract, a change that the school’s administration hopes will appeal to a larger applicant pool.
Gilman has long held the Henry Callard and Michael Howard Cooper Teaching Fellowships, both of which combine classroom mentoring, part-time hands-on instruction, and the opportunity to coach athletics. This fall, Gilman implements a new high-concept teacher-

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